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PD Board Funds Research to Test Vines Designed to Block Vector Transmission

by Ted Rieger
November 30, 2018

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Pierce’s Disease (PD) and Glassy-winged Sharpshooter (GWSS) Board approved funding in the amount of $38,617 at a special teleconference meeting November 29 to continue research on the testing of grapevines designed to block vector transmission of Xylella fastidiosa (Xf), the bacterium that colonizes plant and insect hosts and causes PD in grapevines. To date, the project has identified and tested target proteins that could be used to block the vector transmission of the Xf bacterium from plant to plant. Transgenic grapevine materials have been developed with transmission blocking proteins and peptides for use in lab and greenhouse experiments, and will ultimately be tested in field trials.

The research is being led by principal investigator Dr. Rodrigo Almeida of the UC Berkeley Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management. The PD/GWSS Board previously funded Almeida’s research in this area in the amount of $753,454 over three regular grant funding cycles that served to develop the concept that the blocking of vector transmission of Xf to plants is feasible. In addition, Almeida’s project more recently received $447,604 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). The $38,617 approved by the PD/GWSS Board will cover a recently discovered shortfall in funding to properly maintain existing vine experimental material in lab facilities until June 30, 2019.

PD/GWSS Board member and research screening committee chair Steve McIntyre, with Monterey Pacific Vineyards based in Soledad, recommended the interim funding, and noted that Almeida will apply for additional grant funding in the Board’s upcoming regular research funding cycle that will enable this promising technology to be tested in field trials. McIntyre said, “Other researchers are working with this type of antimicrobial peptide technology for disease management, and it looks like it could become mainstream as a management tool.”

Research Symposium

CDFA is holding the 2018 Pierce’s Disease Research Symposium December 17-19 in San Diego that will feature presentations and posters by research scientists covering recent research progress on PD and its vectors, in addition to research on other important pests and diseases of grapevines funded through grants awarded by the PD/GWSS Board.

Information on the 2018 Symposium program and registration is available at: https://secure.cdfa.ca.gov/egov/pds/default.asp

A PDF file copy of the 2018 Research Symposium Proceedings, with research project updates, and files for all previous research proceedings and updates, can be found online at: www.cdfa.ca.gov/pdcp/research.html
 


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